ZUMBA take 2!

Back in January, when I was still good about keeping this blog updated, I did a special on Danielle Pierce and her Zumba class – found HERE.

Tonight I actually took her Wednesday, 8 p.m. Zumba class at Steps on Broadway.  Because I had such a fabulous experience, I wanted to share it with all of you.  It is also my belief that all singers should get their butts into a zumba class as soon as possible.
So – without further ado – here was my Zumba experience.
I am a pretty darn fit person and have experience with a very diverse variety of dance techniques/classes. I went to zumba, feeling a little strange having sneakers on my feet and not character shoes and a bit apprehensive because rhythmic latin movements aren’t exactly my forte.  However, Miss Danielle immediately made me feel at ease by learning everyone’s name (magic memory skills) and ecouraging us to smile, have fun, and SING along to the music.  She then put on some latin music (the music, for the record ranged, from samba to bollywood to Glee to the golden oldies) and began to sing loudly, proudly, and incredibly joyfully off-key – which made everyone in the class (who ranged from professional dancers to students who were true beginners) feel free to make fools of themselves, let loose, and have fun both physically and vocally.
What sets Zumba apart from other dance classes for me is that you never stop moving. It is a true cardio workout!  Your legs and arms are constantly moving, be it fancy footwork, jumping, or gliding.  Without even knowing it, you are giving your core a massive workout just from coordinating your arms and legs together.  While there is certainly a Zumba technique, the class seems to be more about getting yourself moving – which makes it appropriately challenging for ANY level.  Professional dancers will get just as much of a workout as a movement novice.   Miss Danielle’s class has a wonderful mix of highs and lows, so you do get some breathing time.  Before this experience, I have taken a grand total of ONE Zumba class.  It was at a health club in Florida and there was no breathing time – it was all the highest energy jumping and samba-ing possible. It nearly killed me!  I definitely appreciated the mix of high energy and calm energy Miss Danielle provided.  More importantly – Miss Danielle creates a completely judgement free environment where she runs around the room dancing with and high fiving her students.  We even did a conga line at the end of class!  I can’t remember a time I smiled so much during a class!  
While it’s not necessarily movement you will directly use in an audition or choreography for a show, it is invaluable for the cardiovascular workout it gives you AND simply getting you moving, accustomed to shifting weight, standing on one leg, and jumping.  If you are IN a show, you will appreciate this – as dancing through a whole number is far different than the 48 count snippet they give you in a jazz class.  Since Miss Danielle has you vocalizing while Zumba-ing (to make sure you are breathing) – you even get a little practice at singing and dancing at the same time!  I TRULY BELIEVE EVERY SINGER SHOULD TAKE ZUMBA!  Anyone who is looking for a class to get started in the dance world should DEFINITELY get to a Zumba class ASAP – any dancer looking to improve their stamina should get to a Zumba class ASAP – and anyone just looking to have a fun dancing time should get to a Zumba class ASAP.  Basically – this entry is one big Zumba advertisement!
For those of you who would like to watch a video of what Zumba is so you know what to expect when you walk into class – here is a special the TODAY SHOW did back in 2007!
And here is a Zumba fitness basic steps demo!
I hope to see you in Zumba class!!!!


Next in our SPOTLIGHT series is the gorgeous, talented, and infinitely generous Danielle!

I first met Danielle in ballet class at STEPS where her long legs were the envy of everyone in the class and her cheery hard working personality inspired all!   Though she hadn’t chosen teaching as her profession at the time, she was already working as a teacher at the “School at Steps.”  She asked me to be her teaching assistant for a class of three year olds.  This task seemed incredibly daunting to me, but I was soo gobsmacked by how Danielle made ballet fun and appropriately challenging each of her students, from the one who would rather be coloring outside to the one who would be future prima ballerina.  They were truly lucky students.  (Her students today continue to be lucky students!)

She also has a super power that I can only dream of – she is a FABULOUS TAPPER!  (I am quite possibly the world’s most horrendous tapper.  I have virtually zero sense of rhythm, I’m a ballerina so my feet always want to point and be above my head instead of relaxed and tapping near the ground, and to make matters worse, I’m actually allergic to the metal the taps are made out!  Now if that isn’t a sign!)  At any rate, Ms. Danielle generously offered to help me learn to tap, and I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for the patience and humor she brought to each of our sessions.   Knowing my unwavering love of THE LITTLE MERMAID, she would even bring in arrangements of UNDER THE SEA knowing that if any song was gonna get me tapping, that was it!

THE BEST NEWS OF ALL is that YOU TOO can take class with Ms. Danielle!  She teaches both Zumba (at Steps Wed. at 8 p.m. and Ballet Hispanico Thursday at 7 p.m.) and Pilates (at Pilates on Fifth!)

Here’s a description of her Zumba class:

The Zumba® program fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a one-of-a-kind fitness program that will blow you away. Our goal is simple: We want you to want to work out, to love working out, to get hooked. Zumba® Fanatics achieve long-term benefits while experiencing an absolute blast in one exciting hour of calorie-burning, body-energizing, awe-inspiring movements meant to engage and captivate for life!

***(M4M note – Zumba is a FABULOUS way to get into dance, even if you have never danced a day in your life!  We will hopefully be doing a Zumba special in the future featuring Danielle!)


What is your pursued career?  (Singer, dancer, actor, lawyer?) 
I refer to myself as a “Movement Educator”. I primarily teach dance to kids, but I am also a licensed ZUMBA Instructor and Certified to teach Pilates (Mat and Machines)

What are favorite forms of exercise and why?  
I love to move so I try to mix it up regularly! I did a lot of Pilates before I started teaching it but I am trying to rekindle my love for it. I am currently loving Yoga and Gyrotonic. Of course, there’s also dance class- ballet, tap, jazz, modern….Since I started teaching Zumba I have no interest in Cardio equipment except the rebounder.

What are your favorite classes (in any form of fitness) in the city and what do you love about them?
Classes at Sonic Yoga, especially those taught by Johanna Aldrich (she is AMAZING- you will think about your life in ways you might not usually- while you have your shoulder tucked under your elbow and your other knee by your ear-it’s everything yoga shoud be- contemplative, yet hot and sweaty, and flowing and a kick tush workout!)  They also do 6 week beginner workshops regularly for people who have no yoga experience at all.

Barre Sculpt and Cardiolates at Pilates on Fifth– These classes take pilates ideas and meld them with ballet barre work and weights and the rebounder, respectively, and they are fun ways to mix up your routine.

ZUMBA (is it too self serving if I say taught by ME) I teach at Steps on Broadway and Ballet Hispanico, but you can find amazing classes all over! http://38595.zumba.com/ It’s FUN and it is a non monotonous way of doing cardio!

What do you do at home or on the road to stay in shape when you can’t get to a class or the gym?The flexband is your best friend. It’s tiny and portable and makes doing mat work or just toning and stretching exercises more interesting on the road. I also like www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com. Its a free service if you want to use it on your laptop, or you can pay to download workout videos to your mobile device. Katherine and Kimberly Corp lead a whole slew of awesome Pilates workouts to suit every need and level.

How do you approach a dance/movement audition and what advice would you have for non-dancers in a dance audition?  
I don’t (audition) anymore, because I’m an amazing teacher and a mediocre auditioner. However, I had the most success at auditions when I was wearing something that I felt good about my body in. (Leotards, goodbye. Hello, Lululemon tank and Skort). I also found that I performed best when I was really relaxed and didn’t get over invested in any specific call. If you put forth all of your energy when you take dance class, treating an audition “like class” in your head really helps. If you take class regularly and give it your all and take risks in class (It’s great to fall on your but in class), you have a stronger arsenal of things to help you in auditions.